Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>

Zeus Kerravala | October 23, 2013 |


Cisco is at War with Good Enough

Cisco is at War with Good Enough Cisco should use all the intelligence it has in-network and create an experience that can't be replicated through consumer-only technology.

Cisco should use all the intelligence it has in-network and create an experience that can't be replicated through consumer-only technology.

This week, Cisco is holding its annual Collaboration Summit in Boca Raton. The analyst summit within the collaboration event kicked off on Tuesday with a seven-person panel led by SVP and GM of Cisco's Collaboration business unit, Rowan Trollope. I found many of Rowan's comments refreshing, including statements such as "We need to get out of our way", and a discussion on how hard Cisco's products are to use. Frankly, this isn't just a Cisco problem, as almost every vendor's products are hard to use.

During his opening comments and many times while answering questions, Trollope must have mentioned user experience at least a dozen times. While this is something that almost all vendors say, the definition of what it means to focus on "user experience" is as broad as the UC ecosystem itself.

Trollope went on to discuss how, in many ways, the challenge is to create an experience that is indeed better than the "good enough" experience one could get from using any number of consumer or low-cost UC tools out there. Are the "freemium" tools really corporate-class? Of course not, but if the experience from a company like Cisco isn't markedly better, then why not just use the good enough? It's one of the reasons why AIM, Skype, Box, Facebook, etc. are all still used widely in the business world. They provide an experience that is as good as or better than what you'll get from any business application.

For Cisco, I think focusing on user experience means the following:

* Create a "unified" UC experience. It's a weird thing to say, but the UC experience isn't really all that unified. At the risk of having Cisco start using a term like UUCC or U-squared, C-squared (Unified, unified communications and collaboration), I do think it's important the company creates a more seamless experience across all of its platforms such as Jabber, WebEx, Telepresence and the other forms of video. Today everything "kind of" works together, but "kind of" needs to be replaced by "seamlessly". The release here of two new features, Collaboration Edge and Jabber Guest, help with B2B connectivity, but there's still a long way to go.

* Develop a uniquely mobile experience. Rowan talked a lot about being more mobile, but frankly all the UC vendors have thought about being "mini" more than being mobile. That is, they build clients, and good clients, for Android, iOS, etc. To me, being uniquely mobile takes advantage of location, proximity, directional and other information to change the experience.

For example, if I'm in motion, have an audio conference call me. Or if I'm on a mobile device and the proximity information detects that I'm close to my desk phone, ask me if I want to move the call. Cisco has a wealth of information available to it within the network, and they should use that data to make the UC experience smarter and better.

* Create a unified developer experience. Cisco has been pushing this concept of "communications enabled apps" for years. However, the toolkits and SDKs make building these very difficult. In fact, it's likely that a developer partner would need to access 3 or 4 SDKs from different product areas, all with different capabilities, features and structure. I don't mean to pick only on Cisco, it's an industry-wide problem--it's just that Cisco has so many business units that it raises the complexity level.

Cisco's goal should be to create a developer environment where all of the network and telephony interfaces are invisible to the programmers. Simplifying this will raise the appeal of Cisco UC as a platform to a broader set of developers, particularly the younger, Web- and social-oriented ones.

* Make it easy to buy Cisco and simplify licensing. Right now, understanding Cisco licensing across all the UC products is like solving a Rubik's Cube. There are so many combinations and permutations that customers often get confused about what to buy and how to buy it. Making it simpler to understand will help channel partners sell more Cisco and enable customers to buy what they need.

This era of consumerization is interesting in that it's common wisdom that consumer technologies are better than corporate. That's kind of true in that each device may have a great experience, but creating a unified experience often requires a bunch of manual integration. Cisco's opportunity is to take this "good enough" consumer experience and use all the intelligence it has in-network and create an experience that can't be replicated through consumer-only technology.

Follow Zeus Kerravala on Twitter and Google+!
Zeus Kerravala on Google+


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.